Afghan 'allies' kill 3 more soldiers from U.S.-led coalition

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 26, 2012 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan — two of them British and the nationality of the third unknown — were killed Monday, apparently by members of the Afghan security forces in two separate incidents, the latest in a series of "green on blue" shootings.

The two British soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan soldier at a coalition base in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in Afghanistan's south. The third soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force, the U.S.-led coalition's formal name, said in a statement.

Details of the incident in Helmand were sketchy, but a spokesman for Helmand's governor told McClatchy the attack happened at a gate to the headquarters of the coalition's provincial reconstruction team in Lashkar Gah as Afghan army vehicles were waiting to enter.

"The shooter had come to the base with other (Afghan) soldiers," spokesman Daud Ahmadi said. "He entered through the gate used by local workers at the base and then opened fire."

Ahmadi said coalition soldiers returned fire, killing the Afghan soldier.

ISAF said in a statement that two of its soldiers had been killed in southern Afghanistan but declined to release their nationalities. However, Britain's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that the soldiers were British.

A joint Afghan-ISAF team is investigating the incident.

The Taliban through a statement on its website claimed responsibility for the killings. Spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said a Taliban infiltrator who'd joined the Afghan army some time ago had killed "two invading forces."

ISAF's statement on the eastern Afghanistan incident said that the soldier killed there was shot by "an alleged member of the Afghan local police." The statement said the incident happened as an ISAF security force approached a police checkpoint, but did not provide a precise location and offered no details on the nationality of the soldier.

The death of the British soldiers at Helmand and the killing of the ISAF soldier in eastern Afghanistan will renew questions about the reliability of Afghan forces, who will take over responsibility for Afghanistan's security when coalition combat troops leave by the end of 2014.

Nearly 80 American soldiers have been killed by their Afghan counterparts since 2007. Most of those incidents have happened since 2009.

Meanwhile, three ISAF soldiers and an Afghan policeman were wounded in a suicide attack in Uruzgan province, local officials said.

The attack, by a bomber on a motorbike, took place around midday in the Chora district, said Hamdard, a spokesman for Uruzgan's governor, who like many Afghans has only one name.

The nationality of the wounded soldiers was not immediately known, Hamdard said, although Australian soldiers are based in the area.

ISAF spokesman Colonel Gary Kolb declined to confirm for McClatchy that ISAF soldiers had been wounded, but he confirmed that the attacker had been killed in the explosion.

(Stephenson is a McClatchy special correspondent. Special correspondent Ali Safi contributed to this article.)

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